If you have been reading my blog posts, you know that I am now pretty much Keto (“ish”) and generally embrace the high natural fats/low carb ethos embraced by writers like Gary Taubes or Chris Kresser. The Diet Wars are actually kind of entertaining. Just watch the debates sometime on Youtube. You generally see two super fit, ultra-healthy looking, and really smart people citing meta studies about risks and benefits of each camp. (This is a good sample of those sorts of debates). No wonder why they argue with such zeal. Each diet is clearly working for them. They have MD’s in each camp as well as some peer reviewed studies to support their argument.
But as much as I enjoy the jousting among the various diet tribes, I think something very important has been lost amidst the noise:
Nearly everyone agrees that the Homer Simpson Diet sucks: Sugary donuts, ultra processed foods like potato chips, sugary cookies as snacks polished off by Duff Beer, and ultra processed, sodium drenched tv dinners. The Journal of Nutrition does not contain any articles encouraging us to eat like Homer.
I think the carbs/no carbs debates should really occur as an end point rather than as a starting point in the diet journey. Instead, I think it is more helpful to take a pen and a notebook, and then ask yourself:
What would Homer eat? Channel Homer and then remove all of the foods that Homer likes: processed sugary donuts, salty snacks like pretzels at Moe’s, Duff Pop, carby Duff Beer and quantity, and likely, hugely processed TV dinners. All of it, even lean cuisine stuff.
Reject the Homer Simpson Diet.
Then, just shop, as Michael Pollan recommends, on the outside of the grocery store, and buy all sorts of greens, root vegetables, meats, and dairy. Remove fruit juice and replace them with fruit: oranges instead of orange juice or apples instead of apple juice.
Start with a 12 to 13 hour 50’s style fast that your Grandpa and Grandma did, and voila, you’re 90% of the way there.
I would add just one addition to Michael Pollan advice: Eat mostly plants, not too much (at the right time).
Back to my promise of the Venn Diagram yesterday, in these diet wars, and I think even my hero Taubes needs to be reminded of this, before carbs good/carbs bad debate occurs, the participants should agree to answer this question:
Can we all agree that the Homer Simpson Diet is bad?
Secondly, once that point is established, the followed question should be given:
Can we all agree that people should remove Homer foods from their diets?
For the love of God, I hope every expert in the world says yes. If there are any Homer Simpson Diet advocates out there, I am just going to give up.
After those two questions have been confirmed, then and only then the experts can argue which foods on the edge of the grocery store are best.
This is a good starting point. I also think starting with a nutritionist to test for good allergies is also an extremely good idea and of course, talking with your doctor. They will be able to most importantly identify potential food allergies or other individualized aspects of diet strategy. Otherwise, it is like walking through the briar patch while blind folded.
Remove Homer foods: pops, juices, sugary rolls, salty snacks and beer.
Replace them with foods from the outside edge of the grocery store.
Remember mom’s advice to get 8 to 9 hours of sleep.
Then, follow Grandpa Earl and Grandma’s eating schedule of dinner at 6 and no eating until 7 (13 hour fast), you’re already 90% on your way.
(Dieticians. I also get that there can be compliance issues with changing Homer’s diet too quickly. If nothing else, just doing Grandma Edna’s 13 hour fast would be better than anything.)
If the Un-Homer strategy isn’t working, then you might want to do a deeper dive into the diet camps like Keto, Vegan, Carnivore. Each have their virtues depending upon your circumstances.
Homer’s hilarious, but we shouldn’t eat like him.
Tomorrow, I am going to compare sugar to cocaine, two very dangerous substances.